Ray glanced toward the open ambulance doors as though he might be able to see Dirk, but he was already halfway to Geisinger Medical Center in critical condition. He had slipped into unconsciousness after saying that one word to Josie, and neither she nor the paramedics had been able to rouse him. He was the only living witness to the shootout, and he’d be lucky if he survived the next few hours.
“How do you know he was Isabelle Coleman’s teacher?”
Josie rolled her eyes. “He was on the news last night and again this morning talking about what a good student Isabelle is. Trinity Payne interviewed him. She interviewed everybody. I thought you were on this case.”
“Yeah, well, the chief’s got me searching the woods out by the Coleman house. I don’t have time to watch the news.”
“So, you found the phone?”
His eyes flicked to his lap. “No, a searcher did. It was kind of embarrassing since our guys had already taken a pass in that area right after Coleman went missing. Anyway, this lady found it and called it in. Dusty and I took it into evidence.”
“Well, a few minutes before the crash I saw Dirk Spencer on the news talking about what a great girl Isabelle is and how everyone just wants her to come home.”
“You think this…” he motioned toward the crash, “has something to do with Isabelle Coleman’s disappearance?”
“You mean abduction.” “You know what I mean.”
Josie told him about
Dirk Spencer whispering the name Ramona before he lapsed into unconsciousness.
Three horizontal lines appeared on Ray’s forehead. It was the same look he got
when she asked him to
pick up tampons at the store. Puzzled consternation. “So what?” he replied. “It’s probably his girlfriend.”
She sighed. “Yeah, I guess. So what’s the chief holding back on the Coleman case?”
He stared at her, one eyebrow lifting. “You know I can’t tell you that.”
Josie’s head throbbed. “You think I won’t find out eventually?”
Exasperated, Ray said, “Why can’t you just follow the rules? Just one time? You’re asking me to put my own job in jeopardy, Jo.”
She couldn’t contain her incredulous “Puh.” She laughed. “Your job? You’re kidding me, right? You really think the chief would fire you for sharing information with someone in the department? I am your superior,” she reminded him.
It was a sore subject. He might have been promoted alongside her if the chief hadn’t kept finding empty whiskey bottles in the footwell of his patrol car. Turned out it wasn’t that easy to storm out of an ambulance. He stumbled and nearly fell to the asphalt outside. The last thing Josie heard was “Son of a bitch.”
Luke slid in beside her with a fresh ice pack, and this time she held it to her temple. Her headache was getting worse by the moment. She needed some ibuprofen. Her adrenaline was fading, leaving her entire body aching.
“What was that about?” he asked.
“Just trying to find out what he knows about the Coleman case.”
He put a hand on her knee. “Josie,” he began, but he didn’t lecture her. She liked that about him.
“What’ve you got on this mess?” she asked.
Luke sighed and rubbed a hand over his eyes. “Squat, that’s what we’ve got. All we know is that they came from the interstate. But it’s like they were shooting at an invisible car. We know there was another vehicle involved because of all the rounds shot into the Escalade, but all we’ve got are spent bullets.”
“Nine millimeter, 30.06 and some 7.62 by 39s,” Luke said.
Josie moved the ice pack to her left shoulder. “A handgun and a hunting rifle? Well, that narrows it down. Practically every male in the state has those. The 7.62s are a little less common around here.”
“AK-47s take 7.62 by 39 rounds. Lots of inner-city gangs use those.” “So you think this was a gang thing?”
“Vehicle is registered to one Carlos
Garza of Philadelphia—the
driver. He’s a known member of The 23, a Latino gang out of Philadelphia.”
“That’s the number the other two had tattooed on the backs of their necks. Whatever this was may have started on the interstate, but Philadelphia is two hours away.”
“You know as well as I do the drug trade doesn’t respect borders,” Luke pointed out.
“So this could all be over drugs?” “Sure looks that way.”
“Then what was Denton East High’s twelfth-grade history teacher doing in the passenger’s seat, and who’s Ramona?”
Luke shrugged. “Who knows? Hopefully Spencer will make it through and be able to tell us himself.”